City of Gold

See this fine film before dining out.

City of GoldBoth witty and historically significant, Director Laura Gabbert’s City of Gold is an “R” rated documentary that you should really take the time to hunt down. It follows the Pulitzer Prize winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold as he gives you a tour of the many restaurants in his beloved Los Angeles.

Mr. Gold is a magical character, and he is a unique critic in that he will as readily patronize a taco stand on a street corner as a five-star restaurant. Though he tries to hide his identity as a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, he is easily recognizable right down to his portly frame, ratty mustache, long hair streaming from his balding head and an incredibly warm smile. It is clear that Mr. Gold has seldom turned down a large meal whether he enjoyed it or not.

The film’s “R” rating comes from its salty language, which only makes the movie more delectable. Additionally, Mr. Gold has patronized restaurants in all sections of LA throughout the years, and the film brings to life a city at a level that would have clearly escaped your attention.

Ironically, the restaurant culture in Los Angeles flows largely from contributions made by immigrants. This documentary not only allows you the pleasure of watching him sample food made by chefs from Ethiopia, Korea, China, Guatemala and Mexico, but you also get to meet many of these lovely people and learn their story. For example, an Ethiopian chef came to the States with a five-year old son, and she worked for years as a waitress to make sure that he received a proper education. He is now a physician, and helped repay her by financing her splendid restaurant.

As much as LA is defined by Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica, it is its huge diverse culture that defines its character. Mr. Gold has his own interesting background centering on music and his skill with a cello, and he is the first to recognize that America as reflected by cities like LA have developed a personality based in part on the efforts of immigrants pursuing their dreams.

As most of you know by now, I love movies because many of them find a way to help us understand who we are as Americans. We are in a presidential campaign where many candidates seek to deport over 10 million Hispanic immigrants while building a wall between Mexico and our country. Such proposals are not only frighteningly amoral, but they miss the simple fact that we are a better, more enriched nation because of these immigrants.

This film is a powerful reminder that it is our diverse culture that defines our country as the land of the free and the home of the brave.